All-autistic wedding to highlight two-day ‘Love & Autism’ conference in San Diego
What is being billed as the first all-autism wedding is taking place in San Diego, and local artist Jeremy Sicile-Kira will be a part of the special day.
To celebrate the union of Anita Lesko and Abraham Talmage Nielsen, Sicile-Kira has created a unique painting for the couple.
“Truly, I have done this for other clients in love who have asked for paintings representing their relationship together, and that gave me the idea that they might like their own painting for their home,” said Sicile-Kira, a 26-year-old Carmel Valley native who recently relocated to Del Mar.
The wedding will be a part of the second Love & Autism: A Conference with Heart.
Founded by San Diego Dr. Jenny Palmiotto, the two-day conference aims to bring awareness to the fact that every individual, including those diagnosed with autism, deserves to be loved and have relationships.
“A big misconception is that people on the autism spectrum don’t want love,” said Palmiotto, who also serves as CEO of a Point Loma-based private practice called The Family Guidance & Therapy Center of Southern California. “I just can’t even imagine living in a world where people believe that because of something about me. It’s really, really damaging.”
From the bride and groom, to the ring bearer and cake baker, everyone in the wedding party is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum.
Diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old, Sicile-Kira says he sees and feels emotions as colors — a condition called synesthesia. Although he has trouble communicating verbally, Sicile-Kira communicates through art and uses his synesthesia to create colorful paintings.
Sicile-Kira met the couple over Skype before painting the picture.
“Truly I dreamt that I painted the aura of Anita and Abraham at their wedding,” explained Sicile-Kira, who communicates by using a letterboard or keyboard.
“Truly Anita and Abraham have a great blue aura surrounding them. Truly kindly blues represent greatly their love and dedication for each other. Green is there for the wonderful calm they bring to each other and those around them. Happy yellow means true dreams can nicely become greatly reality. True white glows for the hope that great many others with autism will find a beautiful love like theirs. Have to say nice silver and gold is there, showing true happiness looking down from above.”
The conference, which takes place Sept. 26-27 at Liberty Station Conference Center, will feature world-renowned professional speakers in the autism field and role models in the autism community, with about 80 percent of the speakers on the autism spectrum.
The wedding became a part of the conference at the bride’s request.
“I never thought I’d be a wedding planner, but I am now,” Palmiotto said with a laugh.
But Lesko pointed out that people on the autism spectrum are often excluded from events, and her wedding might be the first time many get to attend one.
“I just thought that was so beautiful,” Palmiotto said. “Sometimes seeing is believing. I wanted to give people the experience of watching this union.”
Lesko lived the first 50 years of her life not knowing she had Asperger’s syndrome. She has worked as a nurse for 26 years.
Lesko met Talmage Nielsen at her Asperger’s support group. The pair became close friends before becoming a couple. Talmage Nielsen proposed on Christmas in 2014.
“Truly I believe the message is that we all need to find and give love no matter who we are,” Sicile-Kira said.
Nearly 190 people attended the conference last year. Organizers expect about 200 attendees this year.
Tickets to the conference cost $289 for people 12 and older. It costs $89 to attend the wedding only.
For more about Sicile-Kira and his work, visit www.jeremysvision.com.
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